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  • Writer's pictureIrene cisma díaz

A new perspective on Consumer Behaviour: The Microbiome



Throughout history, marketing research has drawn inspiration from various disciplines such as economics, psychology, and anthropology to understand consumer behavior. Despite advancements, the buying decision process remains unpredictable, often likened to a "black box" in consumer research. However, drawing insights from microbiome science to understand consumer decisions is on the table.


Microbiome research and consumer behaviour


Microbiome research, offers promising avenues for understanding consumer behavior. The human gut, teeming with a diverse microbial community, has been implicated in influencing overall health and well-being. Recent discoveries have highlighted the significant impact of gut microbes on cognition, emotions, and behavior, challenging the traditional separation between mind and body.


The gut-brain axis (GBA), a complex network involving the central nervous system, enteric nervous system, and intestinal microbiota, plays a crucial role in regulating emotions, cognition, and decision-making processes. Studies have shown that the composition of gut microbes can influence cognitive function, stress management, and even social behavior.


Probiotics, beneficial bacteria found in the gut, among other body areas, have been shown to modulate emotional reactivity and reduce inflammation, offering potential avenues for influencing decision-making. Moreover, research suggests that prolonged intake of probiotics can lead to reduced risk-taking behavior and a preference for future-oriented choices, highlighting the profound impact of gut microbes on decision-making.


The holobiont-consumer

In 1991, Lynn Margulis introduced the term "holobiont," initially describing a simple biological entity comprising a host and a single inherited symbiont. Over time, its definition expanded to encompass a host and its associated communities of microorganisms, collectively known as the microbiota. This microbiota, ranging from mutualistic to parasitic interactions, interacts intricately with its host, forming a holobiont. This concept challenges traditional notions of human individuality, suggesting that humans are not standalone entities but ecosystems in themselves. From a neuroethical perspective, the composition of the microbiome raises intriguing questions about human identity. Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset famously said, "I am I and my circumstances." Could it be that humans are not just humans, but a complex amalgamation of themselves and their microbes? This philosophical inquiry opens doors to rethinking our understanding of what it means to be human in relation to our microbial companions.


Consumer decision-making research future directions


As we delve deeper into the microbiome-host relationship, it becomes imperative to address challenges such as understanding the mechanisms of action, variability in microbiota composition, and potential biases in research methodologies.


Despite these challenges, integrating microbiome science into consumer research holds immense potential. By considering factors such as gut microbiota composition and dietary patterns, marketers can gain deeper insights into consumer behavior and preferences. Moreover, such insights may have broader implications for addressing societal issues such as nutrition disparities and financial decision-making.


In conclusion, the field of microbiome science offers a new frontier for understanding consumer behavior. By bridging the gap between microbiology and consumer research, we may unlock valuable insights into the complex interplay between gut microbes and decision-making processes.

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